Madison Trog

Maddy is our newest research assistant all the way from Minnesota. She graduated from Winona State University in 2020 with her BA in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. 

Maddy's love for research began when she was an undergraduate research assistant for 2 years in college where she researched fetal alcohol syndrome presented in mice. 

In her free time, Maddy likes to travel (shes been to 13 countries!!), spend time outdoors, play violin and read. In the future, Maddy hopes to attend a graduate program for psychology.

Sydney Kramer

Sydney is our senior clinical research assistant. She graduated from the University of North Dakota with her BS in Psychology and a minor in Biology. Sydney is currently researching the relationship between creativity and psychopathology. 

In her free time, Sydney enjoys traveling, baking and listening to podcasts.  

Lucas Casten

Lucas joined the lab as a graduate student from the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics in 2021, after previously working in the lab as a clinical research assistant. He is broadly interested in the genetic variation that makes us all so unique. As a result, his research projects focus on: language ability, risk for psychiatric conditions, and their shared biological underpinnings.

He graduated from Cornell College with a BA in Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience. Much of his free time is spent watching sci-fi movies and exploring the Midwest.

Taylor Thomas

Taylor graduated from Iowa State University in May 2017 with a BS in Genetics. She joined the lab in May 2019 as a graduate student pursuing her PhD in Genetics. She is researching the genetics of the sex bias and enrichment for gender variance in autism. Taylor also manages our bench work and all wet lab activities! In her free time, Taylor enjoys walking her dogs, collecting sweaters, and drinking coffee. 

Cate Buescher

Cate graduated from the University of Missouri in May of 2019 with a BS in Health Sciences and a Psychology minor.

After a successful two years as a SPARK RA, Cate got accepted into The University's Epidemiology graduate program. 

In her free time, Cate likes to travel, go thrifting, and spending time with her friends and family (Including her bernese mountain dog, Desi). 

Leo Brueggeman

Leo was one of our MD/PhD student in Iowa's MSTP program and a graduate research assistant in the Michaelson lab. After completing a BS degree in Molecular Biology from UC Santa Cruz, he came to Iowa to pursue his dual passion for medicine and computational bioinformatics. As a member of Iowa's Genetics PhD program, Leo's research focuses on applying machine learning techniques to imaging and genetic data to increase our understanding of psychiatric disease. In his free time, Leo enjoys traveling (20+ countries and counting) and reading about new technologies (GPUs, android, etc).

Tanner Koomar

In 2015, Tanner was the first graduate student to join the Michaelson Lab as part of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics. Tanner’s project focuses on the intersection of human language with neurodevelopment, through the study of population-level whole genome sequencing. As a key trait which distinguishes humans from our closest living relatives, Tanner was inspired to study the genetics of language, and is passionate about communicating science broadly. Outside of the lab, Tanner is devoted to his wife, dogs, podcasts and tabletop role-playing games.


Jacob Michaelson, PhD

Dr. Jake Michaelson is a Roy J. Carver associate professor in psychiatry and neuroscience and the division director of computational and molecular psychiatry at the University of Iowa. His lab studies the effect of genetic variations on the development of the brain, with specific applications in autism and language impairment. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in biological engineering at Utah State University before earning his PhD in computational biology at the Technische Universität Dresden in Germany in 2010.